How to stop trying to do everything all the time

One of the main reasons we are so much more stressed than, say, our grandparents were is that we take on so much more. We have families where each partner has a full-time job and maybe a part-time job to make ends meet financially. Then there is the hard work of keeping house and raising the family that has to be done in the “free” time.

Most of us don’t mentally clock out at the end of the workday. Instead, we take our work home with us and are available 24/7 via text message or email. Add to that the stress caused by constant connectivity and social media, and it’s no wonder we’re more stressed than ever.

It’s time to do something about it. It’s time to stop trying to do everything all the time and focus on reducing the stress in your life. Start by reviewing everything you do on any given day. A great tool for this is a time log.

Keep a simple piece of paper or a small notebook with you at all times. Set an alarm on your phone to sound every 30 minutes (during waking hours) and quickly jot down what you are doing. Be brutally honest. No one else needs to see this log and you can burn it afterward. After a week of logging, you’ll get a pretty good idea of what you’re spending your time and mental energy on.

Now comes the fun part. Look through your data and decide what you can let go of. What can you stop doing? Create some time to exercise, meditate or take a nap so you can catch up on some much-needed sleep.

Next, it’s time to review and let go of all the worries, questions, and “should-dos” that are stressing you out. Get out a sheet or two of paper and write down everything that’s on your mind. All the things you’ve been thinking about. All the things that are bothering you. Let it all out. Go away for a few hours and then come back to your list. Cross out as much as you can. Things that are beyond your control and that you want to mentally let go of. Tasks that you think you should do, but really don’t need to do.

Then write what’s left on two different lists. One will contain things that you can do or that someone else can do for you. This will be your main to-do list for the next few months. The other is a list of worries or concerns. Notice how much smaller and shorter these lists are and how much easier you feel when you get everything out of your head.

And last but not least, burn that master brainwashing list. Doesn’t that feel good?

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